PBS Is A Relic.

Are Democrats raising hackles on trimming PBS funding just to score political points? I hope so, because politically, it’s a winner. Policy-wise, though, it’s wrong. Leave policy to the governing majority, I suppose.

PBS is a relic of the Golden Age, when public institutions matter in (white) America. Just as its probably not a mere corrolation that school funding declined in response to desegregation, (white) America’s interest in other public institutions has declined the more people feel like it gives advantage to people who, you know, don’t work as hard as they do.

I don’t usually engage in this kind of New Left identity politics tripe, but in this case, I think it would be totally intellectually dishonest to deny that racism played a role in the decline of the public square post Brown.

But whatever the cause, the public square is dead in America outside of a few blue-state urban enclaves. Public transportation is characteristically un-American (agian, outside of these few enclaves), unions are in single digits. And not all of this is bad.

Just compare American television to the rest of the world. Most of the rest of the world’s broadcast television makes PBS look like Cinemax on Saturday night. It’s horrible. American television in 2005 is not a public thing. It’s driven by consumer choice, and mostly through cable and satellite.

This is a tough argument for Democrats to support, because the media out there is so skewed to the right that it seems that there must be some causal connection between the rise of Right Wing media and the end of the fairness doctrine and the rise of privately held satellite. It may smell funny that large corporations and deregulation ideologues pushed a lot of this through, but there is nothing stopping left-wing media. Just look at AirAmerica–it’s kicking butt, and I can listen to it anyone on satellite radio.

Even though it’s not a news channel, you are insane to deny that HBO is, if not itself “liberal”, is aimed at liberals. Larry David loses his erection when attempting to have sex with a Bush supporter. Bill Maher … heh… enough said. Peter Krause constantly bitches about Bush on Six Feet Under. Michael Imperioli underhandedly digs at Bush on The Sopranos by having his nimwit character voice support for the President.

There is “liberal media” even if there isn’t much liberal news or talk radio, and that statement doesn’t even account for the internet. It’s there if you want it, and it’s there because of deregulation. It’s in the minority, yes, but that can and will change.

The fairness doctrine and public broadcasting may have created a perceived “liberal” bias, but it was nothing more than mealy-mouthed milquetoast Establishment centrist garbage, which is more or less what you get from the Washington Post, The New York Times, et al.

Saving PBS is stupid. It’s a relic of a bygone era. It doesn’t contribute a thing to Democratic causes, and it will be preserved locally where it’s wanted, like New York and San Francisco, and, perhaps by DirecTV and Sirius satellite subscriptions.

So take yourself out of your partisan bickering mode and ask yourself if you’d rather have HBO and Air America… or PBS. Maybe that’s a false dichotomy, but its also a false dream to imagine that we can go back to the airwaves and media of the 60s, or that doing so will somehow stop the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

2 thoughts on “PBS Is A Relic.”

  1. Like the underpinings of so many private fortunes, the airwaves were developed purely on the public dime. The government gave away the airwaves to the networks, for FREE, in exchange for having the networks providing news coverage as a public service.In the Walter Cronkite era this public responsibility was taken very seriously; the first purpose of the news was to provide citizens with precise, important information.As news became a business this public trust eroded leaving network news as the worthless shambles we have now.The solution, as I posted once before, HBO News. Their flagship product: A nightly half-hour news segment (commerical free, obviously) that lives up to the values of William Paley and Walter Cronkite etc. Personally, I would be willing to pay $1 a day for this service, and its clear superiority would compel others to do the same.Moreover, why don’t we revoke the deal with the networks and open the airwaves up for auction (with no news requirement) and make some money on an asset that, as taxpayers, is the property of all Americans.


  2. I think this plays well into an overall theme that liberals should not be afraid of the market of ideas.Judge Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit managed to trick the Supreme Court into reversing its limits on Congress’s commerce clause powers, but what good does that do now? The Republican Congress can run rampant!Why not let states have better government? Does anyone doubt that the evolution-learning well educated stem-cell research available workforce of California wouldn’t eventually prove that its ways are superior to the eliminating-half-the-populace’s-worth-thought-the-birth-lottery Republican way, where science loses to politics?So too with the media. After a while, people will see that they aren’t getting the truth from Fox, even if it sometimes feels nice for them to hear it.All the government needs to do in these situations is make the playing field fair so that one side can’t force the other side out of the game through cheating.


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